Monday, 13 March 2017

Version Four Launches with a bang


 Early looks and massive discussions

 So, Flames of War Version 4 (V4) has officially hit the shops Worldwide. From Battlefront head office in New Zealand, through Europe, and beyond to Canada and the United States, players young, old, experienced, novice, packed into stores to get their hands on the newest version of the most popular World War Two game on the market.
 But the excitement and uncertainty about V4 was rumbling on well before this weekend past. Battlefront previewed some plastics at Flamescon last summer and the gaming community got talking in a big way. Commenters slowly pieced together the Mid-War theme and when the pieces fell into place Mid-War was set as being the big release to herald the arrival of V4.

The plastic Panzer III and IV previews, now a reality after the release.
 There was much uncertainty, a wailing and a gnashing of teeth about the upcoming release, with threats of model collections being binned and players swearing off never even uttering the words 'Flames of War' ever again. But slowly, and with a few helpful sneaky peeks, players warmed to the idea, until finally the weekend arrived and V4 was released into the world.

Scotland reports in

 As many of you who have known me for a while are aware, I hold the respective position of Ranger for Battlefront. Take a look back through my archives and you'll find numerous reports spanning half a decade on my taking Flames of War, and the rest, to the people. So, it fell to me to gladly usher in the V4 release at Common Ground Games in Stirling. 
 Three shops in Scotland were taking part in the V4 release event:
  • Static Games in Glasgow
  • The Games Hub in Edinburgh
  • Common Ground Games in Stirling
 Common Ground was chosen to be the main port of call for Scotland for a number of reasons; it has a good central location, there are plenty of tables for gaming on and lastly CGG has been the home of the tournament scene in Scotland for a couple of years now and we have close ties to the venue.

We did have a lot of stock, and then players appeared!

 With the demonstration kit on site, and the large stack of conversion books ready to go, we were all primed for the big release. I made my way there, ready to be on-hand to answer questions, greet players both old and new and take anyone through a quick demo of the fantastic new 'El Alamein' starter set.

 Faces old and new

 As mentioned above, we had players in who had been gaming in Flames of War for a decade or more come in, just as excited to get their hands on the V4 conversion books primarily, but more often than not these players were just as quick to scoop up a copy of the hardback Mid-War Rulebook. The story was the same over in Edinburgh and Glasgow as the rulebooks and starter sets flew off the shelves.
 If you'd happened by Stirling after noon, you'd have been disappointed as by that time there was not a rulebook, nor a starter set to be had. That didn't stop people asking if perhaps there had been some hidden away that they could get their hands on. This was the story across Scotland as reports came in that the other outlets had run out of books, guides and starters too!
 The other thing that customers tried to barter on were the Shop Copies of the upcoming Desert Rats and Afrika Korps sourcebooks. I think had Common Ground stocked them on the day, they'd have sold a good dozen or so easily. Which is unsurprising as the books are great.

 Away from the shop floor and into the gaming area; the majority of customers were unable to stop for long, most eager to get home and get reading at the new rules. But two stayed by for a couple of demo games; Kenneth and Craig. Both had got into the Flames of War community through Tanks initially, before stepping up to Team Yankee and finally into Flames of War, with the El Alamein box a perfect purchase for them.

Craig and Kenny, hard at work constructing the new kits and loving them
 They settled down to crack the box open whilst I took to a table to take a couple of players through a few demo games of the new kit. With plenty of questions being asked about how things work, what to do with their existing forces and the like, it was encouraging to see players who were initially unsure about the release settling into the new edition (A feeling that has been spreading through Facebook and beyond).

Crusaders and a Grant tussle with Panzers in the sand
  Demonstration games are always a tricky area; you don't want to overwhelm a player with tons of information at a time, but you want to give them enough information to make an informed choice throughout the game. Lucky for me the majority of players who indulged in a game were seasoned veterans stopping by to get their first hands-on experience with the new ruleset.
 For those that are interested, the British and the Germans ended up on even scores at the end of the day, showing that even though the British tanks are a little fragile, they can definitely stand up to the menace of the tougher German armour.
 Over in Edinburgh at the Games Hub, there was also demonstration games on the go, in case you couldn't get to Stirling.

Burning tanks aplenty in the Capital.

 Our little demo table attracted a lot of interest from other games and passing customers; many of whom were quite taken by the new plastic tanks and unit cards. With a couple of demos throughout the day, interspersed with a lot of chat and in depth conversations with players, a couple of whom were making a return to Flames of War after a little while out, the day was definitely a success.

 A new era for Flames of War

 The V4 release was definitely well received in Scotland, as is true for the rest of the world. From my own experience I'm heartened by the community up here and can only hope that V4 brings more players into the fold, perhaps ones that have been a little standoffish in the past about getting into a game such as Flames of War.
 We can but wait and see, but I have no doubt that in the coming months Flames of War will be a very prevalent game up here. 

 In finishing all I can say is that I hope you enjoyed the weekend as much as I did, and that you got your hands on a copy of the conversion rules, and perhaps were even fortunate enough to snag a rulebook and starter set before they sold out at your location. Thanks for reading guys, and enjoy V4.

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